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Chatham Town Women prepare to play at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road stadium this Saturday in the Women’s National League Southern Division with relegation close to being confirmed

Chatham Town Women will be looking to put their league woes behind them for 90 minutes when they play their part in a historic day at Ipswich.

Hosts Ipswich will be playing a first-ever professional women’s match at Portman Road and they’re expecting a big crowd for the occasion. The match has been moved forward a day to the Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

Manager Keith Boanas hopes Chatham Town Women rise to the occasion at Ipswich this Saturday Picture: Allen Hollands
Manager Keith Boanas hopes Chatham Town Women rise to the occasion at Ipswich this Saturday Picture: Allen Hollands

For Chatham, it could be an afternoon where their relegation from the Southern Premier Division is confirmed, but manager Keith Boanas hopes his side can just enjoy the occasion.

He said: “It’s a strange game for us, with the situation we’re in, where it’s probably done and dusted. It is just an opportunity for the players to go and enjoy an occasion.

“The bottom line is we’re 99.9% relegated and losing on Saturday will probably confirm it, but we kind of know it anyway, we aren’t being unrealistic with the games we’ve got left.

“It’s an opportunity for those players who want to stay here to play as if they do and also an opportunity for any players who have aspirations of playing at a higher level, staying in this league or the one above, then it is a chance to put themselves in the shop window.

“They have nothing to lose, everything to gain, literally just go and enjoy it.

“It will be a big pitch, an energy-sapping pitch, apparently there is a 10,000-plus crowd expected, it is going to be something the majority of our players haven’t experienced before - one or two have - but it’s a chance to feel what that’s like, something they may never get again.”

Chatham have a loan deal with Ipswich forward Holly Turner and discussions were ongoing this week to confirm whether she could play.

The original agreement was that she wouldn’t go up against her parent club but that was before the switch to Portman Road and now her own team can’t get promoted anyway.

“We hope they don’t take the opportunity away from her,” said Boanas.

“Let’s give her a decent opportunity as well, she has been a really good loan signing, she’s frustrated she hasn’t been able to help us turn it around, but her attitude has been top drawer and I wish we could have got her two months earlier.”

With four games remaining heading into the weekend, Chats are 11 points from safety and have yet to win a league fixture.

Boanas said: “I have spoken to the chairman (Kevin Hake) and should I wish to remain he has stated that he wants me to stay and rebuild a team.

“This squad wasn’t mine, he has been understanding of the situation, he has seen improvements in training and personnel and staff, sometimes it has just been other circumstances.

“I can’t knock their work ethic, it has been top drawer, but there have been situations in games that haven’t gone our way.”

National Southern Division table

Chatham’s previous match saw them draw 1-1 away to bottom side London Bees last Wednesday, a game they had gone a goal up from the penalty spot before conceding soon after.

“We gave a way a silly goal within four minutes,” said the manager.

“We dominated but couldn’t find that end product and there have been a lot of games where we’ve created chances and just not been able to bury them for loads of reasons.”

It would be Boanas’ first relegation as a coach.

He said: “I firmly believed that I would get them out of it when I took over so it has been a tough one for me to take but it can’t be about me, it’s about everybody, the players, does it hurt my pride? Of course it has because I feel I have let people down when I don’t do what I think I can do.

“It is not about letting myself down, I am too long in the tooth to let it destroy me and my life, but it is the effect it has on other people.

“I am bitterly disappointed I haven’t been able to do the job I wanted to do. It’s been by far and away the toughest management job I have ever taken on.”

Chatham’s friendly match on Sunday was cancelled after a serious injury to an opposition player in the warm-up.

Chats were without a league game and had arranged to play Ashford United Ladies but while warming up visiting player Ronni Jeffrey suffered a leg injury.

A decision was made to call the game off, which had been scheduled for an 11am kick off on the Sunday morning at the Bauvill Stadium.

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